Vegan Menu Helps Pizzanada Thrive in Pandemic

Pizzanada, an omni restaurant embracing their vegan side, is located at 128 Montgomery St in Bloomfield.

When Pizzanada first opened up in March of 2020, they offered one lonely vegan option. Today, their menu is 50% vegan and it accounts for a whopping 75% of their sales. Pretty impressive.

“We should have named it Veganada,” laughed Christina Petocz who, along with her husband Joe, owns the Bloomfield restaurant.

So how did an omni restaurant that opened in the midst of a pandemic do this well- and become so vegan- in just over a year? It all started with a single request.

"My brother-in-law is vegan, so we added a plain vegan pizza to the menu for him when we opened. That's it,” Joe explained. But then they added vegan empanadas: chickpeas and kale, sweet potato lentil. And more pizza options.

Noticing that they had a lot more customers and were getting great feedback, they decided to go "real heavy" on the vegan options: Impossible stuffed peppers, eggplant rollatini with homemade ricotta, mac 'n cheese, taco empanadas (my personal favorite). You name it, they had it vegan. Even dessert empanadas with house-made cannoli and nutella filling!

Pizzanada is known for pizza and empanadas, but their entrees and specials are giving their name-sake products a run for their money.

"Everything we make, we make a vegan version," said Christina.

"And then we do vegan specials," Joe added, excitedly showing me pictures on his phone. "Something new every week: Stuffed mushrooms, chicken saltimbocca (pictured, bottom right), croquettes. And we have two kinds of vegan mozzarella stick options, traditional and hearts of palm."

For omnivores, they're pretty enthusiastic about vegan food.

"We go through 200lb of vegan cheese a week," Joe told me, "you have to see our freezer!" And see it I did. It was easily the most amount of vegan cheese I've seen in one place. In other words, heaven.

Aside from the shredded cheese and Impossible meat, their vegan stuff is made in-house: pistachio pesto, ricotta cheese, even their chicken cutlets and steak are made fresh in their kitchen (the cutlets are made from chickpeas, seitan, and seasonings, then breaded in coconut milk. Are you hungry yet?).

It's no surprise that vegans come from all over, even from down the Jersey shore. And despite opening their business at the start of the pandemic, they said it hasn't really hurt them. Instead, take-out and delivery apps really picked up and they took advantage of that. People even order single pieces of their home-made cake and brownies via apps like GrubHub.

But I was curious. As omnivores, did they ever think they'd have a mostly-vegan restaurant?